Friday, November 16, 2007

PANTA RHEI -- All Things Keep Flowing

We both step and do not step in the same rivers.
We are and are not.

Heraclitus (400 BC)

the old pond
a frog jumps in--
water's sound

Bashō (1686)

It is as if one were casting a net, but the fisherman always risks being swept away and finding himself in the open sea when he thought he had reached port.

D&G, What Is Philosophy (1994) p. 203


Anonymous Yusef said...

Hi Orla,

I was interested in the way you presented the Heraclitus fragment, thus:

"We both step and do not step in the same rivers.
We are and are not.

Heraclitus (400 BC)"

Had you modified this to suit your own end? And if so, would you clarify your purpose?

Here are the Heraclitus fragments which deal with the concept of continuity, of which, I believe the one you quoted above is a member:

"1.Everything flows and nothing abides;. Everything gives way and nothing stays fixed.

2.You cannot step twice into the same river, for other waters and yet others go ever flowing on.

3.Cool things become warm, the warm grows cool; the moist dries, the parched becomes moist.

4.It is in changing that things find repose.

5.Time is a child moving counters in a game; the royal power is a child's.

6.War is both father and king of all; some he has shown forth as gods and others as men, some he has made slaves and others free.

7.It should be understood that war is the common condition, that strife is justice, and that all things come to pass through the compulsion of strife.

8.Homer was wrong in saying, "Would that strife might perish from amongst gods and men. For if that were to occur, then all things would cease to exist."

The second fragment, above, is the one which most resembles the fragment you quoted, but there is no equivocation or sense of equivocation in it in this form, as in yours. I could see, though, how your presentation might be taken as a synthesis of my second fragment and my fragment 4. Is that what you have done?

I hope you are well, and thanks for the post - we do indeed appear to be flagging now.

2:27 PM  
Anonymous Tohoya said...


Personally, in my study of the fragments of Heraclitus, I have been astounded at the liberties taken by most translators, ascribing to Heraclitus a philosophy which is at the least not entirely contained in his fragments. I do believe that your sentence 2 and the quoted sentence are attempts at translating the same fragment. However, the common translation ("you can't step into the same river twice") takes considerable liberties with the original Greek. Suffice it to say that the translation given by the original poster corresponds almost word for word with the original Greek.

11:10 PM  
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